Congratulations to the Greens for making history in Brighton and Hove

I must first of all start by congratulating the Greens on a result that exceeded just about everyone’s expectations. It exceeded mine. I thought the Greens would end up with 21 or 22 seats. I didn’t expect the two amazing results in Withdene where Sue Shanks topped the poll, nor Christopher Hawtree’s sensational efforts in Central Hove. I suspect that Green High Command had some doubts, but one man did not share them – Chris Hawtree himself.

The Greens have emerged from this election with 23 councillors (including 6 in Hove, up from 1), the Tories are down to 18 and Labour have remained static with 13. The Lib Dems have been wiped out as predicted, hoped for and encouraged by this Blogger. Labour now has just one councillor in Brighton Pavilion where the Greens are now winning in Tory strongholds.

Before touching on other results, can I mention those sitting councillors who have lost their seats. Politics can be cruel, and election losses for sitting politicians offers no hiding place. Focus is on those who have been victorious, but this evening we should pause to thank the following for their service to the City, often at a cost that ordinary citizens, even party activists, don’t see and can’t always appreciate: Paul Elgood, David Watkins, Jan Young, Melanie Davis, Ayas Fallon-Khan, Pat Hawkes, Christine Simpson, Maria Caulfield, Trevor Alford, Kevin Allen, Juliet McCaffery, Steve Harmer-Strange, Ted Kemble.

I got one result hopelessly wrong – Moulsecoomb and Bevendean – where I felt that Maria Caulfield would win and, on her coat tails, Ayas Fallon-Khan (moving from Goldsmid) and Cath Slater (well known locally) would cause an upset in Labour’s back yard. I was wrong. And so I eat Humble Pie (though I do prefer Sugar Puffs). And congratulations to Labour’s team in M&B, Leigh Farrow, Mo Marsh and mayor-elect, Anne Meadows. This result, along with the return of the Legend that is Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll, the anticipated gains by Penny Gilbey in North Portslade and Alan Robins in South Portslade, and the unexpected election of Anne Pissaridou in Wish, were the few positives on a day when it seemed the Greens were conquering everything before it.

A bitter-sweet result, and one predicted in this blog, was Jeane Lepper successfully defending her seat in Hollingdean and Stanmer. A combination of the Lepper name and Jeane’s own reputation as a hard-working and effective caseworker saw her survive. One of the few errors the Greens made this year was to underestimate Jeane Lepper.

A quick word on the one Green who was not successful in H&S, Luke Walter. Luke must be incredibly disappointed tonight, but he should be proud of his achievements. He probably worked harder than any candidate in H&S, but electoral politics can be unfair, especially when your surname begins with a W or a Y (ask Jan Young). Luke has the advantage of age on his side, and his time will come before long. (I will be blogging on the fortunes of all the young candidates in the near future. None of them, other than sitting councillor, Alex Phillips, who I heard described as the “Baby of the Chamber” today, was elected.

But the day belonged to the Greens who, I understand, were in celebratory mood when they retired to the Cricketers Pub for an orange juice after the count. Never before in the United Kingdom have the Greens become the largest group on a Council, and this is the largest group of Greens ever elected (what do you think of that, Norwich?). So congratulations to all newly and re-elected Greens throughout Brighton AND HOVE. I will blog more on the Greens remarkable achievements and the challenges that lie ahead in the next few days. But for now, enjoy the night, encourage Bill Randall to go wild and have another lemonade, return to your constituencies and prepare for ….. I’m not sure. A coalition? A minority administration? Definitely Christopher Hawtree to be Lead Councillor for Libraries! Congratulations, All.

25 Responses

  1. Congratulations indeed to the Greens on their wins, and to you BPB for your very prescient predictions, if you bake the humble pie I will eat my share, as long as no breakfast cereals are involved.

    It was noted at the count that Labour won as many votes as the Greens – 33% – but far fewer seats. We improved our vote in I think every ward (look at Rottingdean Coastal) but it was not enough. Colleagues like Dan Chapman in Queens Park won more votes than I did but still lost, though others scored impressive wins from the Tories in four separate wards.

    Again congratulations to all who won, comiserations to those who lost, and thanks to BPB for hosting our election debates.

    • Good job we don’t have have any of that PR rubbish. Oh, ur, hang on. Confused now. Too much cricketing.

  2. Well done for smashing the Tories in safe seats. I’m just worried that people have voted without thinking. But Meh perhaps sour grapes. We have lost pat hawkes which is a shame… but holding on to lepper is great. I think the greens have a real opportunity to soften the cuts that will have to be made.

    I can say to you dear Blogger and anyone who reads this that the labour party is now on the move and sorting things out internally. No more losses like this for us.

    I have to say that I am very very disappointed with the results today. But with the doubling of my votes in rottingdean . And my uncle Brian being returned to his rightful place after all the extreme work he put in. At least a Fitch is in Brighton politics.

    Not the best day but the only way is up from here! And we are on the recruitment drive now! Thanks for the contest and at least the Tories have been smacked in the teeth. No tears from sven this time but perhaps next time (when I take his seat) eh ! Well done all!

    • Does that mean a leadership challenge from Brian Fitch perhaps…..

      I can’t imagine many in Brighton and Hove Labour Party are very happy with where Gill Mitchell has taken them.

      • hey don’t get ahead of yourself!

      • Perceptive young man…. someone has his ear to the ground…

      • Grandpa Fitch is to too old, too out of touch and too lacking in grace and honesty to lead Labour. If they want to resume power eventually they need to listen to the electorate not ponder their navels.

  3. Well done blogger, I wanted to believe your predictions for Green success but was impressed by the Labour effort here in QP and feared i swing to Labour.

    Your political intelligence was obviously very accurate! Now tell us what will happen next!

    • What happens next? Nick Clegg realises the errors of his ways, the Coalition falls, a general election, Labour and the Greens Form a coalition with Caroline Lucas as PM, a socialist republic is introduced, to each according to their needs, from each according to their ability to pay, Chris Hawtree is elected MP for Hove and becomes Secretary of State for Education, and then I woke up, it’s Saturday morning and the Greens have to decide whether to form a coalition with Labour or try to run as a minority administration. Sorry, I have no idea what will happen next.

      • Just spent the last week working in Hertfordshire, and it really underlined how B&H is a place apart. Tory boards everywhere and a surprisingly resilient vote going by boards and posters for the LDs. No sign of anything much by anyone else. Much like the rest of Sussex I suspect- though I see potential shoots in Lewes Town for the Greens now many LDs there are doubtless looking for a new repository for their liberal conscience. Look at Lewes Bridge, for example….

  4. Congrats to BPB on pretty accurate forecasting. On a first past the post basis (based on top party vote in each area) Lab just took the city, if my adding is correct. So instead of the rump I expected Lab to be they are still in the game, with all to play for next time. I think they would be wise to play the role of constructive opposition to a Green minority administration- let the Greens take flak for cuts.
    On the leadership issue- a change would be good.
    Brian Fitch has 40 yrs experience and a flair for publicity(safe hands) but perhaps there is new talent among the 5 new members?

  5. Zombie – simply changing the leader misses the point of the scale of change Labour needs. Gill has done an impressive job during 4 years of difficult opposition through a General Election in which we lost 3 seats. As I posted previously, Labour needs to radically rethink candidate selection, internal culture, strategic organisation and targeting amongst other issues. Labour in B&H needs to remember this isn’t 1997 anymore. The campaigning style, culture and organisation which worked well for us over a decade ago do not work now. We did well in some wards improving our share of the vote and we need to build on this and regenerate our Party and reconnect with people further.

    • Craig – I couldn’t agree more. Labour need to rebuild as a Party for our unique city. Labour could be in real danger if it has Brian Fitch as leader – that would be signaling a retrenchment into old style Labour politics. Brian Fitch being back is not good at all – he is not a good person to deal with even when he is sober. And would Greens go into a coalition with Fitch as Leader of Labour – could they trust him?

    • The Greens very carefully counted out the votes from each ballot box last May at the G/E and knew where they stood a good chance, Sven Rufus didn’t travel north to lose his position as a cllr, they paid little or no attention to the Kemptown boxes at the G/E count and that showed yesterday plus they know that Simon Kirby will be a tough cookie to beat when they look at the work his team do with Peacehaven wiping the libs off the face of the earth at County,District, and Town level.

    • Reconnection yes-agreed. There needs to be ward activity that connects with people as well as a core ideology say social democracy that has points of difference with Greens and others.

  6. I have to agree with the sentiment of the BPB – if the last couple of days campaigning and being sleep deprived at the count has taught me anything, it’s that across all the parties, there are some committed and passionate public servants.

    Win or lose, it’s been a pretty edifying experience seeing them all in action. I hope that we can all come together for the good of Brighton & Hove and make the next four years a success for the city.

    • Agree.

      The left of centre vote in Brighton & Hove is in a clear majority.

      The people of our city want Labour and the Greens to work together, and to put the people first above party self interest.

      • Of course the Green Party want that to be the mantra so they have some cover against the effect of the cuts. However, they have spent all recent elections campaigns targetting Labour in order to get themselves established locally. There is no reason to think that their intense animosity to Labour is going to suddenly be reduced, as they appeal to them ‘in the interests of the people’ – they should have thought about that earlier, and Labour would be wise to keep a good distance from them in the months ahead.

        Labour had the same electoral support across the City as the Green Party – they represent as significant an electorate as the Green Party – there is no gain to be had from being swallowed up the them in the interests of the people, just to be spat out again when it suits.

      • I believe David Miliband told Labour to work with the Greens on his visit to the city t’other day. I gather he was under the impression that Labour would be the senior partner in that arrangement.

  7. Craig – couldn’t agree more. An honourable campaign with loads of energy and great candidates but without a rethink of our our strategy and organisation we’ll continue to fight in a competitive city with one arm tied behind our back.

  8. I hope Labour doesn’t take the view that they should stand on the side lines and just watch as the city and the council go through what will be one of the most difficult times in recent history. That would be unforgivable.

    • Why? It’s a bit rich for the Green Party to expect this from a party they have done nothing but attack and denigrate at every opportunity. The Green Party would thank Labour in the same way that Cameron has thanked Clegg.

      • Unfortunately I don’t think the finger can just be pointed at the Greens. Labour have also had a obsession with the Greens which has not been productive. I can understand Labours statement on not working in a formal coalition but I hope that behind this it is not a matter of same old Labour and same old ‘sour grapes’. Craig’s point that ‘Labour needs to radically rethink candidate selection, internal culture, strategic organisation and targeting amongst other issues. Labour in B&H needs to remember this isn’t 1997 anymore. ‘ is vital point and that also means changing its view of the Greens.

  9. G/E Candidates
    Conservative-Mike Weatherley
    Greens- Alex Philips
    Labour- Simon Burgess

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